August 06, 2007

Three reasons why the attempt by GOP attorneys to redistribute California's electoral votes from a winner-take-all system to one based on the capture of Congressional districts is overblown:

1. The 2008 Presidential election will not, in all likelihood, be that close. The last ten Democratic wins (going back to Wilson) did not require all of California's votes to reach 270; in fact, two of the winners (JFK and Carter) didn't even win California. Close national elections tend to be the exception, 2000 and 2004 aside, rather than the rule, and the massive unpopularity of the President and the Republican brand indicate that the country will see a Democratic landslide next year. As in 1992 and 1996, expect to see the networks call the election for Hillary or Barack before the polls close in California.

2. Passage of the initiative in California in June, 2008 will probably lead to a flood of other initiatives in Republican-leaning states to impose the same law before the November elections. Losses incurred in the Golden State can easily be made up by passing the same law in Texas or Florida. If the Democrats continue to control the nation's state legislatures after 2010, expect to see similar laws get enacted everywhere, along with some intricately gerrymandered districts drawn with an eye to 2012.

3. The Democrats will have to spend money to defeat such an initiative, if it manages to reach the ballot. That's good, especially for Democrats. Any initiative that faces any sort of progressive opposition is usually doomed to fail, and anything that sparks partisan interest by the Democratic Party will lead to more voters being registered and more activity to spur political interest. A higher turnout will mean more voters in November, and possibly a pick-up of several Congressional seats.

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